Published: May 6, 2003
HARTFORD, CONN. — Antiquarian & Landmarks Society President David Rhinelander announced that the Butler-McCook House & Garden will reopen on May 18, following months of restoration and renewal. Visitors will experience all but two of the rooms in the house and the South Parlor and Library as restoration continues through the summer.
Last August the Capitol City’s oldest house was almost destroyed by a devastating accident when an SUV jumped the curb at the inter-section of Capital and Main and hit the house air born at about 50 miles per hour. The driver was not seriously injured; the museum, however, sustained about $500,000 in damages to the building and collections. This came within weeks of the June 2002 reopening of the house after a four-year, $1.3 million restoration and redevelopment effort.
The 1782 Butler-McCook House is Connecticut’s premiere family history time capsule and Hartford’s oldest house. A&L had also just opened the Main Street History Center — an exhibition and orientation center that has remained open since the accident.
The cost of restoration has been partially covered by a policy with Chubb Insurance.
“Restoration on this scale is an extraordinary learning experience for an organization like ours,” reports A&L Executive Director Bill Hosley. “Connecticut is home to a remarkable community of building and object conservation specialists. Paintings, furniture, upholstery, carpets, plaster, wallpaper and woodwork all required highly specialized treatment and care. It’s astonishing given first appearances how much of the collection will be saved. When the work is done most visitors will hardly know the accident ever happened.”
The reopening will also introduce a new interpretive plan for the museum that will enable visitors to enjoy a guided tour and orientation on the first floor and a self-guided experience of the five rooms on the second floor. Hosley and Curator Beverly Lucas will offer “An Insider’s View” of the restorations at the reopening celebration.
“Butler-McCook is one of the best-documented houses in America and a time capsule of astonishing authenticity and character,” maintains Hosley. “The McCooks were the quintessential Victorian family whose sentimental affections and strongly developed personalities are fully revealed by the house and its furnishings,” he adds. “It is easy to imagine that it’s 1885, the McCooks just walked out and you’re invited for a look inside.”
During June and July Butler-McCook will host several site-based tours. On June 5, A&L horticulturalist Robin Zitter will provide a garden tour. On Saturday, June 14, there will be a walking tour “Discovering Hartford’s Main Street.” On July 12, “Discovering Hartford’s Urban Parks and Statuary” will be offered
The Butler-McCook House & Garden and the Main Street History Center are at 396 Main Street. Free on-site parking at the 59 South Prospect Street entrance may be accessed via the Capitol Area Exit (29A) off of I-91. The House is open year round Wednesday–Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, 1 to 4 pm, and till 8 pm the first Thursday of every month.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm